Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tatt's All Folks

When it comes to displaying your love for something – person, place, or even product – you can’t get much more extreme and long-lasting than a tattoo. That kind of adoration – a desire for an all-day, every-day tribute on your own body – is clearly Lovemarks territory. In fact, when we launched Lovemarks: The Designers Edition at the Frankfurt bookfair, we had master tattoo artist Adam Craft tattoo a “Loyalty Beyond Reason” design on several volunteers and tattoo aficionados (see the video).

It reminds me of a great quote about brand loyalty: “Retention is for wimps. We measure the percentage of customers who have our name tattooed on one of their body parts” (Harley Davidson annual report would you believe! See more below). These are the customers who plan to stick with you, no matter what, who literally have “skin in the game”. Who will pay to be a walking ad for what you stand for. Who want everyone to know how much you mean to them, how much they love you. The etymology of “branding” actually originates from a process closely linked to tattooing, back when farmers used to burn their mark into the skin of cattle to indicate ownership.

Martin Lindstrom explored the brand-tattoo phenomenon in his 2005 book, Brand Sense, sharing the results of a survey asking which brands people would most want to have tattooed on their arm. (And ask my youngest daughter Bex about Betty Boop!!!)Here’s the top ten:

1. Harley Davidson (18.9%)
2. Disney (14.8%)
3. Coke (7.7%)
4. Google (6.6%)
5. Pepsi (6.1%)
6. Rolex (5.6%)
7. Nike (4.6%)
8. Adidas (3.1%)
9. Absolut (2.6%)
10. Nintendo (1.5%)

Of course, choosing an option in an online questionnaire is one thing – getting inked up is another. Last year, Australian law firm and trademark attorneys Nicholas Weston conducted a survey with 20 tattoo businesses in Melbourne, asking them about the popularity of various brands:

1. Harley Davidson
2. Nike
3. AFL (Australian Rules) club logos
4. Vegemite
5. VB (Victoria Bitter – Australian beer)
6. Disney characters
7. Holden
8. Ford
9. Fox/Alpinestars (motorcross gear)
10. Triple J (Australian radio station)

Their results were significantly more local, but three names remain consistent: Harley Davidson, Nike and Disney. Perhaps it’s bizarre that Disney is up there (although that Mickey’s an iconic fellow!), but it’s no accident that the grand winner of both cases is Harley Davidson. The company has long known that the passion of their customers is more important than any figure on a spreadsheet, as evidenced by this extract from their 1997 Annual Report:

“Customers show their loyalty in different ways. Buying a product says one thing, customers tattooing their bodies with our Bar and Shield says quite another. We see Harley-Davidson tattoos on our customers (and some of our employees) 365 days a year. Our Daytona and Sturgis Bike Week tattoo contests recognize these lifelong customers. What greater evidence is there of the strength of our brand than a customer who wears our name like a badge of honor? Now that’s a passionate commitment.”


franperiales said...

Hi Kevin, I tend to disagree with the claim that tattooing is THE extreme show of loyalty for a brand. The example of Harley Davidson has been used hundreds of times, but I think that other factors must be taken into consideration. Couldn't it be that Harley drivers are the kind of people that would have tattoos done on their bodies? Wouldn't it be that their rough looks with leather jackets, boots and beard go along well with tattoos? There are some brands that have extremely loyal customers who do not tattoo their brands on their bodies, just because the bulk of their customers are not tattoo-like people. I think that tattooing is just one way of showing loyalty that can be more or less visible according to the personality of the average customer. I do not see many Corolla, Tide or Colgate tattoos out on the streets, while these brands enjoy extreme loyalty.
Great blog. Keep on writing!
Francisco Periales

Paul said...

It will never cease to amaze me why people would event think of "paying to become a walking ad". To get paid for it (as stars are) is one thing but it,s quite another to not only to do it for free but even pay for it. And here we,re about permanent branding on body parts. It's totally beyond comprehension. Those people must have a serious case of low self-esteem (or, worse, a total lack of it) to need to associate themselves so closely to a product, service or company name. This not a question of Love Marks - a valuable and proven concept elsewhere - , here it's outright stupidity.

Peter Friend said...

Loving the Tatts. Imagine that World Cup followers would be replete with putting 'skin in the game'?